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Chapter 1. An Introduction to Data Synchronization

Chapter 1. An Introduction to Data Synchronization

Mobile computing gives everybody access to their business or personal data everywhere, using devices like Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), smart phones, mobile phones, and laptops. An online connection to a corporate datastore might not always be possible, due to lack of network coverage, for example. Sometimes even if a connection is available, using it might not necessarily be the fastest and most cost-effective way for the application to operate. In situations such as these, data synchronization is a key technology to alleviate those shortcomings.

Data synchronization allows a consistent local “copy” of various kinds of data, from a central corporate datastore or a service provider datastore on the user's device. It is therefore possible to look up or change data locally on the device without requiring an online connection to the master copy of that datastore. The simplest case is a user retrieving data for his local copy. Here, the application needs to get only the changes from the master datastore to the local copy, without copying the complete datastore again. Synchronization gets more complicated as soon as a lot of different users make modifications to their local copies of the datastore. Now, somehow, these modifications need to be reconciled between all copies of that datastore.


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